Summing up a wizard at maths ⃛ warts and all


In his review of my book Wizard: The Life and Times of Nikola Tesla(Nature 388, 135–136; 1997), L. Pearce Williams says that “no evidence is presented that [Tesla's] mathematical competence was at the level of contemporary mathematicians or even his fellow ‘electricians’”. I find this claim difficult to understand.

In 1937, Tesla was nominated for a Nobel prize in physics for his fundamental equations explaining AC polyphase systems, and his application of mathematical principles to his various inventions was acknowledged by Ambrose Fleming, Lord Kelvin, Ernest Rutherford, W. H. Eccles, Niels Bohr and Albert Einstein, among others.

Also, the statement that I “always” portray Tesla in a favourable light is incorrect. His financial deception of John Jacob Astor, his breach of contract with J. P. Morgan and his self-destructive tendencies and their link to the death of his older brother are just some of Tesla's quirks, mistakes, foibles or miscalculations that I pointed out.

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Seifer, M. Summing up a wizard at maths ⃛ warts and all. Nature 393, 407 (1998).

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